Reuters PRESS DIGEST - Russia - Sept 22
09.22.09, 04:11 AM EDT
MOSCOW, September 22 (Reuters) - The following are some of the leading stories in Russia's newspapers on Tuesday. Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy.
- Japanese Suzuki Motor will not build a car plant in Saint Petersburg, the paper reports.
- Standard and Poor's has raised the rating of Russia's third-biggest mobile phone operator Megafon to BBB- with stable outlook, the paper reports.
- Russia's second-largest mobile phone operator, Vimpelcom , is ready to buy back up to $320 million of eurobonds, the business daily reports.
- Russian agriculture output fell by 13 percent in August, with the Agriculture Ministry blaming drought, the daily reports.
- The real wages of Russians in August dropped by 6.8 percent compared with last August, and by 3 percent compared with July this year, the paper reports.
- Russia's chief sanitary doctor denied that a Russian citizen died from A/H1N1 virus, contrary to a statement by the virology institute chief academic, the paper writes.
- Russia can resume gas purchases from Turkmenistan in October, the daily reports, citing Turkmen President Kurganguly Berdymukhamedov.
- Moscow's mayor has refused permission for a restaurant to be built on the roof of the subway pavilion, the daily says.
- One million jobs will be cut in Russia by the end of 2009, the paper writes citing experts.
(--Writing by Ludmila Danilova, Reuters Messaging: firstname.lastname@example.org +7 495 775 1242)
National Economic Trends
Bloomberg: IMF Sees ‘Fairly Rapid’ Second-Half Recovery of Russian Economy
By Paul Abelsky
Sept. 22 (Bloomberg) -- The International Monetary Fund sees a “fairly rapid recovery” of Russia’s economy in the second half thanks to the government’s anti-crisis program, Odd Per Brekk, the IMF’s senior representative in Russia, said in Moscow today.
The IMF still forecasts a contraction of 6.5 percent this year and growth of 1.5 percent next year, Brekk said, adding that the forecasts are being revised.
To contact the reporter on this story: Paul Abelsky in Moscow at email@example.com
Last Updated: September 22, 2009 02:59 EDT
Reuters: Russia places 10 bln rbls at budget funds auction
MOSCOW, Sept 22 (Reuters) - Russia's Finance Ministry on Tuesday placed 10 billion roubles ($329 million) of temporarily free budget funds in three-month deposits at commercial banks out of the 40 billion roubles on offer.
The average interest rate was the same as the cut-off rate and stood at 10.3 percent.
The previous auction was held on Sept. 8, when the ministry placed 40 billion roubles in three-month deposits at a weighted average rate of 10.27 percent.
(Reporting by Olga Borodina; Editing by Ruth Pitchford) ($1=30.37 Rouble) Keywords: RUSSIA AUCTION/BUDGET
(firstname.lastname@example.org; Tel: +7 495 775 12 42, Reuters Messaging: email@example.com)
Bloomberg: Russia to Resume State Asset Sales to Bolster Budget (Update1)
By Hans Nichols and Alex Nicholson
Sept. 22 (Bloomberg) -- Russia will resume asset sales as the government struggles with its first budget deficit in a decade, First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov said.
The government has about 5,500 enterprises that can be converted into joint stock companies and sold starting as early as this year, Shuvalov said in an interview with Bloomberg Television in Washington. Russia may also sell part of its stakes in companies that are already publicly traded, including OAO Rosneft, the country’s biggest oil producer, he said.
“Now is the time that we can return” to privatization, Shuvalov said after talks with U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Lawrence Summers, director of the White House National Economic Council, late yesterday. “When it was very good, the market, we were collecting money for our reserves and we didn’t talk much about privatization. It was almost dead.”
The world’s largest energy exporter is struggling to meet spending commitments and contain its budget gap after the price of crude oil, the country’s main export earner, plunged by more than $100 a barrel in the second half of last year. The price of crude is now about $70 a barrel. The public deficit, the first since 1999, may reach 8.9 percent of gross domestic product, or about 3.4 trillion rubles ($112 billion) this year, the Finance Ministry said on Aug. 18.
Shuvalov, 42, said the government may start its new wave of selloffs this year, offering as much as 20 percent of OAO Sovcomflot, the shipper that merged with smaller rival OAO Novoship in 2007. The bulk of remaining sales will probably commence in the second half of 2010, with seaports, river ports and airports that need “huge amounts of investment,” he said.
Russia’s last major asset sale was in 2007, when VTB Group, the country’s second-largest bank, raised $8 billion in the biggest initial public offering of the year. Rosneft’s IPO a year earlier raised $10.6 billion.
Shuvalov said the government also plans to raise money by auctioning off licenses for untapped deposits of oil, natural gas and metals. “We have good assets,” he said.
Russia’s economy shrank a record 10.9 percent in the second quarter as industry floundered and companies struggled with slumping demand for the their products at home and abroad. Overdue bank loans reached 5.5 percent of total lending in July, compared with 5 percent a month earlier, according to the central bank. Overdue corporate loans jumped to 5.3 percent in July from 4.8 percent in June.
“In spring, when the decline curve was very deep, we thought that the portfolio of bad debts will be enormous,” Shuvalov said. Now bad corporate debt accounts for no more than 5 percent of the total, compared with some analysts’ forecasts for a 10 percent delinquency rate by autumn, he said.
“Possibly we will face another phase of banking crisis,” Shuvalov said. “Its possible and we have prepared ourselves, but it’s not happening. Now there is no problem.”
To contact the reporters on this story: To contact the reporter on this story: Hans Nichols in Washington at Hnichols2@bloomberg.net; Alex Nicholson in Moscow at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last Updated: September 22, 2009 02:48 EDT
Russia Info Centre: Russia to create an alternative to Visa and MasterCard
21.09.2009The Russian ministry of Finance is going to introduce a draft bill on the national payment system in November 2009, reports the Kommersant newspaper. At the moment a group of experts engaged in development of the payment card system is working on the document.
The national payment system will probably be created on the basis of an existent Russian system in order to reduce dependence on the foreign market players.
Interestingly, the first attempt to set up a national payment card system was made in 1993 by the Bank of Russia, but it failed. Later some private companies ventured at running their own systems of that kind but never succeeded. In 2005 the Central Bank of Russia claimed the all-Russian payment system will be based on Sberbank's Sberkart system, which was renamed into the United Russian Payment System (URPC) in 2008.
Today, the major players on the Russian market are Visa and MasterCard accounting for more than 85% of all cards issued and transactions performed using payment cards. Besides, there are about 20 small payment systems operating in Russia, such as the URPS and Golden Crown (3% and 5% respectively).
By the 1 September 2009 Sberbank had issued over 35 million payment cards (3.5 million URPS cards, while the rest is Visa and MasterCard).
The truth is that Visa and MasterCard systems are already a part of the Russian market, while expenses on creation of a solely Russian payment system are huge.